The most important advice I have is to have such a strong faith in your goals that you can already envision them coming true. See your vision happening right now. Stand tall and tell your story and don’t let others control your narrative. You got this!”

Kidist Tesfaye – Founder and CEO of YeneHealth
I met with Kidist to talk about a Femtech start up that had caught my attention; Yene Health. And what I remember most about our conversation was how she was passionate about what she’s doing.

She not only leads a great startup but her excellent academic accomplishments and the way she tells her story forces you to dream and set higher levels standards for yourself. It is women like her that inspire most of us to thrive and give back to our community and I would like to thank her for being willing to share her journey with us all. Let me Introduce you to Kidist Tesfaye, the founder and CEO of Yene health and so much more. In this article, you get to know about Kidist’s journey to founding Yene Health and attain some great advice if you are planning to thrive and impact the world.

About Kidist

A little back Story

Growing up in the US, Kidist Tesfaye was never really close to her Ethiopian side. It was at high school that she learned a little bit more about Ethiopia and started embracing it.

“I became that girl who wore a wristband with the colors of the Ethiopian flag, you know sweaters and all that jazz…. I wanted to go to the place my parents talked about a lot.”

“As an Ethiopian raised in the US, I think a lot of us face an identity crisis at some point in our lives. I am an Ethiopian who was raised in the US since I was 2 years of age. Because that is all I knew and all of my friends were African Americans, I identified as one, but the moment I stepped inside my African American friend’s home, everything seemed completely different. 

Therefore, moving to Ethiopia provided me the chance to truly define my identity and discover who I am. The fact that I couldn’t truly blend in in Ethiopia was the second challenge. When I first arrived in this country, I was unable to speak Amharic well, but my job at St. Paul’s Hospital truly helped.”

Like many young students, Kidist also felt the heat when it came time for her to choose her major. “I switched my major so many times before I got my degree. That was incredibly beneficial to me because it encouraged me to continue researching until I discovered public health. My first job was in a bank when I first started college. 

Initially, I worked as a teller, but after getting promoted to assistant manager, I would say that’s when I began to be interested in the finance sector. I’ve always known that I wanted to work in healthcare, but I also wanted to concentrate on society since it has a greater influence. 

I have always liked health care ever since I was a child. I was the kid who wanted to become a pediatrician and I did start volunteering at a hospital ever since I was in the ninth grade. It was an easy choice. You know I liked kids and I liked health care. And so I had to battle the choice of choosing whether to stay in the finance sector or to move on to the health care area.”

The experience that led Kidist to want to travel to Ethiopia even more was all the similar cultures she saw when she lived with a host family in Mexico. It reminded her to think more globally and aim higher.

When I came back home from Mexico to my family, I started looking into ways to go to Ethiopia. My family suggested that it would be better if I finish my masters degree and then proceed with my plans.”

That was when a friend of hers shared a great opportunity. She had heard about a fellowship program called “The Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship Program”, which created a bridge for Ethiopian diasporas to come to Ethiopia and serve for 6 months. 

“My friend shared the link with me saying that this was what I’ve wanted for a while and suggested that I applied and I did. I remember telling my mom that I got into the program as she was cooking. They were worried as any parents would be but I had to do it. And then my life changed forever.”

 “I traveled to Ethiopia with five other girls, and I was completely amazed. Because I was so accustomed to the American way of doing things, I found it challenging to work in the business administration department of St. Paul’s Hospital. At that time, the biggest shocking thing for me was seeing the different class levels all in one place. 

Secondly , it was my first time seeing all these black people working in the healthcare industry. However, witnessing black people succeeding and thriving was really encouraging.”

Kidist chose to continue working for another two years after the six-month program was through. She returned to the US for a time to finish her degree, but she knew she had to return. Despite the advice she received from friends and family to stay in the US and work, she chose to focus on working for the community she has served for 2 years.”

“I just knew I had to come back. Working for my own people was really satisfying. It’s crucial to take the time to fully comprehend what you’re doing. Many diasporas arrive hoping to quickly return home. You need to be patient and have a thorough awareness of the culture and passion to help people.”

The Question

Having discovered the difficulties to be challenging as a woman, and seeing the robotic system of pharmacies as well as not being able to get some items for herself, Kidist chose to aim at using technology for the betterment of women’s access to reproductive health products and knowledge.

 According to her, this was how Yene Health was born…… “ I think that Ethiopian women should get the same rights as women anywhere else. And everyone on the Yene Health team shares this viewpoint. They all work hard to make it happen because they are passionate about it.”

For those of you who don’t know, Yene Health is a digital one stop shop solution from a product perspective. It’s a mobile application which has 3 main things; a learning portal, an E-pharmacy, and a call center support line. As Kidist explained, studies show that women’s lack of information about necessary items, particularly when it comes to reproductive health, is the main factor in this problem. 

“So We aim to educate ladies about the products rather than merely offering them for sale. Thus, the learning site is a carefully designed curriculum that enables women to grasp and learn in an easily palatable way the science and facts behind the items they select”.

The second problem is the stigma women face when buying certain products. 

”I’m sure you have been given pads wrapped up in an old newspaper just so people don’t see it and this has created a sort of shame for women and the app is there for those who would like to order their desired products online. We know that not all women are able to use smart phones and that’s where the call center comes in. People can call and speak in their desired language to nurse operators and ask about anything related to reproductive health.”

As the time was running out, I inquired about what she taught when it came to building and sustaining a meaningful business at a young age. And to tell you the truth beloved reader, there were no truer words. Let’s hear it from her….

Last Words

“When it comes to business and entrepreneurship in Ethiopia, young people who are fresh out of college are told to just go ahead and start the business they’ve been thinking about. I think that’s a very wrong way to go about it; it’s setting them up for failure. 

Building and sustaining a business needs a lot of knowledge and experience. It’s not something that can be attained in three months. The most important thing is to have a clear purpose. Be disciplined and stay focused on your mission and vision. Walk in your purpose with full conviction and remember that if anything doesn’t fit or align with that, it is a distraction. So use your time wisely and remind yourself why you started doing the work. And getting a “no” is a good thing; It means you’re getting closer to a yes. 

The most important advice I have is to have such a strong faith in your goals that you can already envision them coming true. See your vision happening right now. Stand tall and tell your story and don’t let others control your narrative. You got this!”